Friday, July 13, 2007

Waiting on God

Andrew Murray in his classic book, "Waiting on God", says this,

The giver is more than the gift; God is more than the blessing. And, our being kept waiting on Him is the only way for our learning to find our life and joy in Himself.

Why God Keeps Us Waiting
There are some of the current "name it and claim it" school of prayer whose only explanation for us not receiving immediate answers to our requests is a lack of faith on our part. There are other pray-ers who think it sufficient to dash into the throne room of heaven, run off a quick list of needs and dash out again. Both have missed the point. The main purpose of prayer is not to ask God for things but to dwell in His presence.

If the only way our Heavenly Father can get our attention is by withholding blessings from us so that we keep coming back to Him, then He will do this. The delay in receiving an answer may not be a lack of faith, or a misunderstanding of God's will, or sinful behaviour. It may simply be that the Lord wants us to spend time in His company and the only way some of us will do that is if we are feeling needy and want something.

Where to Find the Best Blessing
The truth is that we don't really need the vast majority of the things we ask God for. Paul recognised that the greatest needs of believers were spiritual. When we look at his letters and read of the prayers he prayed for those under his apostolic care we see nothing about physical needs being met. Instead we see phrases such as, "to give you spiritual wisdom and insight," or "that your hearts will be flooded with light," or "that you may experience the love of Christ" (Eph 1:17,18, 3:19).

If only we could get our thoughts away from the material world and all it's troubles for a few moments and "fix our eyes on Jesus" as the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us (12:2), we would find not only our prayer lives transformed, but also our ability to cope with the day-to-day troubles that so easily drag us down.

Ask a persecuted Christian how you can best pray for them and very often they will not ask for relief from their sufferings but for patience and endurance. This is because they have learned, like Paul, that there is a fellowship with Christ through sharing in suffering (Phil 3:10). Most of us would rather have the quick fix than to learn intimacy with God through leaning on Him in our struggles.

But if we can learn not only to wait for God, but also to wait upon God, and to accept His comfort in our trials we will find, as Andrew Murray says, that God is more than the blessing, and that we would rather have fellowship with Him than answers to our requests for the material and physical things that loom so large when our spiritual eyes slip away from gazing intently upon Jesus. As the hymn writer said,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

(Helen H Lemmel)

Prayer College Assignment
Don't even try to begin the day without turning your eyes and fixing them on Jesus. Not everyone has sufficient mental alertness for a full-blown quiet time first thing in the morning. But it is perfectly possible to fellowship with the Lord, even before you've managed to open your eyes, if your heart is set on Him.

"Oh, if God's children only knew what a glorious God they have, and what a privilege it is to be linked in fellowship with Him, then they would rejoice in Him!" (Andrew Murray in "Waiting on God").

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